Riding on the Wind

Written by on March 15, 2024

“Rob, are you sailing with the winds of God today?”

I was recently reminded of my mentor’s question years back. At the time, he shared that he was borrowing the question from his long-time pastor, Roger Frederickson; he called it “Roger’s question.” I can’t recall how I responded then, but I have not forgotten the question. 

Roger’s question surfaced Tuesday as I reflected upon the last two weeks and the landscape of my inner life: lots of distraction, fatigue, fear, and distance. Are you sailing with the winds of God? There’s been a lot more furious paddling than sailing.

Then this morning, I did my Lenten reading “coincidentally” entitled “Riding on the Wind.” Day 27, Week 5, Friday: Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8). Marilyn McEntyre writes,

Sometimes the movement of the Spirit in our lives is a current so subtle that all we experience is a little refreshment, barely noticeable at the time—a little pressure in a direction we hadn’t expected. Sometimes it’s a blast of wind that bends and stretches us like saplings in a storm. Sometimes it blows us entirely off the course we planned.

So we have to be watchful. To use a very homely metaphor, living in the Spirit is like keeping your eye on the ball: if an athlete is self-consciously fixated on his own body, he won’t move into the “zone.” We enter the zone. We listen for the voice of God. We move into a new frequency.

It’s a challenge. If it weren’t hard, there wouldn’t be such a mountain of books about the spiritual life out there. What makes it hard is what made it hard for Nicodemus: attachment to organization, control, structure, schedules, rules, customs, expectations in which, like Nicodemus, we’ve invested our sense of importance and identity. Life in the Spirit is a life of trust, not of control.

Nicodemus, a learned man, has been hanging onto forms of understanding and control that make him feel safe, secure, and in control. He comes to Jesus hoping for an explanation, but what he gets is a bit of poetry and the biggest challenge he could possibly face. He gets an image of life with God that changes everything: it is like riding on the wind.*

Are you sailing with the winds of God today? 



Further Reflection:

  • What jumps out to you from McEntyre’s words today? 
  • What do you find yourself saying to yourself in regard to the movement of the Spirit in your life? 
  • Imagine yourself in Nicodemus’ seat that evening (John 3:1-21; The Chosen portrayal): What is your reaction to Jesus’ words of Spirit and wind and breath? In what ways do you identify with Nicodemus’ reaction? What might Jesus be inviting you to? 



* Throughout Lent, I have been reading Marilyn McEntyre’s little book Where the Eye Alights: Phrases for the Forty Days of Lent (Eerdmans, 2021). 


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